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Deadpool #21 – Review

by Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn (Writers), Scott Koblish (Artist), Jordie Bellaire (Colorist)

The Story
: Deadpool now has a price on his head, courtesy of a branch of S.H.I.E.L.D. Guess who’s unhappy about it?

The Review
: This book is problematic for me right now. While it had the tendencies to diverge from pretty good to rather forgettable, the very last arc proved that it could actually exceed in quality the range previously established. With The good, the bad and the ugly being over and setting for a better take on the Merc with a Mouth, this title now has to live up with the fact that it proved it can actually be excellent. Still, with the last issue being somewhat problematic, can the duo of writers provide a good tale featuring the regenerate degenerate?

They do provide the entertainment that is the bread and butter of this series in this issue, yet not in the grandest or most ridiculous of ways. While this issue doesn’t do anything bad per se, it does not do anything spectacular either, giving this issue which works quite well in the grand scheme of things, yet does not rise above the other issues of this series.

What it does right, still, is in how both Duggan and Posehn are able to spin the many plates of the general story in the series. The return of Dr. Strange, the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. did not pay Deadpool back in the zombie presidents affair, how agent Adsit is aware of Agent Preston and her situation and many other smaller threads are mentioned and updated here, providing for some nice touches for those who were following the series so far. With the story in itself being the natural evolution of several of those subplots, it’s nice to see that both writers do have a general direction for the title as it provides for plenty of opportunity for more shenanigans down the line.

An area which can be qualified as hit and miss would be the humor, however, with a lot of jokes being fun in concepts, but not that hilarious in hindsight. The introduction of agent Adsit in this issue, what Deadpool does in order to stop watching a bad movie and some of the dialogue do ends up being rather funny, yet a lot of other concepts ends up being a bit flat. Humor is, of course, utterly suggestive in terms of effectiveness, yet most of those jokes don’t really add up to anything besides maybe providing a chuckle or two for some seconds.

This goes right to the heart of the problem of this issue, as both writers don’t go nearly far enough in their jokes, their setup and the action present in the issue. Deadpool, as a character, is one that does fit right at home when dealing with more obscure or out-there threats, with zombie presidents and demons being something that fits right in with the mood of the book. While it is very commendable of both Posehn and Duggan to focus on the problematic relation between Wade Wilson and S.H.I.E.L.D., a lot of the elements at play here feels perhaps a bit too safe in terms of entertainment.

A saving grace of the issue is the characterization, which follows up the evolution of the character quite aptly with what went down before. The interactions between Preston and Wade ends up being not only rather interesting and funny, but also a certain testament of an understanding between the two. It’s both subtle and rather obvious, yet the main duo behind the book is becoming more and more likeable, which is all thanks to the work of both writers.

Scott Koblish, the artist for this issue, proves to be quite like the two writers in a way, as he shares the same weakness. While what he does is quite competent on its own, with the characters being evocative enough in their designs, poses and facial expressions, most of the scenes don’t end up being that big or stylish enough to be utterly memorable. There are occasional pages where Koblish does something of note, with his panelling being dynamic enough and the action being entertaining for the sake of it. Where he excels, though, is with his sceneries and background, adding plenty of elements and details without making it redundant or simply useless. His backgrounds are full of life and details, never stealing the spotlight, always adding plenty of context to the scenes for the characters to breathe and come to life within them. Never going overboard and never doing too little, Koblish actually does this very right, despite the rest being merely decent-looking.

Jordie Bellaire, all the while, does some pretty good work on her own, with her colorization being very competent. Being both minimal and rather extravagant, her pages benefits from larger themes in terms of colors as she adds plenty of smaller touches to provide smaller contrasts, surrounding them around the more central elements. The very warm colorization of the Dr. Strange scene is clashing with the books, cushions and general character design, while the battle against Crossbone is set by the colorful backgrounds and the way the trees are colored in order to put the two fighters on the spotlight. It’s not the most diverse-looking book in terms of palette, yet Bellaire does some solid work with very simple techniques all the same.

The Conclusion: The story is okay, the characterization is solid and the colorization is good, yet the book doesn’t do much of anything to be particularly impressive in any other areas. It’s a decent book with some strong elements, but doesn’t provide the same amount of quality it can delivers.

Grade: B-

-Hugo Robberts Larivière

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4 Responses

  1. I think you’re a tad to harsh on the humor, but otherwise I agree with the general score. One point, though.

    Despite what some may think, Deadpool’s brand of humor isn’t as low-brow as it appears. It’s not the kind of stuff you can turn your brain off and enjoy- at it’s best it interacts with all the other elements of the book. If you try to separate the humor from the other parts of the book, you’re going to miss a few things. And yeah, some things are just for fun.

    People who read comics . . . we tend to be obtuse. We miss the forest for the trees. This is very much to our detriment- for example, given the last arc I think we’ve established that this book is all about payoff. Having been with the series since the first issue I had context and it also felt good for my faith to have been rewarded.

    And so too, the “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” is being taken account of in this arc.

    • The humor, to me, is part of the characterization, as Deadpool usually tries to get away from his problem or how he perceives his profession and general life through humorous antics. The humor is a bit low-brow at times, but it’s supposed to be that way, as it fits with his temperament.

      The jokes here were a bit unfunny, which does fit with the general character and the evolution of the plot, but it doesn’t make it good all the same. Some parts are indeed just for fun, yet humor is incredibly subjective and this issue didn’t really made me chuckle or laugh in any significant way.

      • Low-brow? By definition it’s not it requires something of the audience. There’s maybe one or two jokes here that are meant to be LOL type stuff and even they have layers. Now, I’m trying to avoid too many spoilers but I think you can guess which moments I’m talking about. If you didn’t at least chuckle at one of the two you have no soul.

        There’s a trend bias the comic book reading community to write off comedy as being automatically bad. As if seriousness is a way to judge quality. The thing with Deadpool is sometimes he’s a serious character and sometimes he’s not and sometimes it’s left up to the reader. I think it makes him a more human character.

        • I absolutely agree with your assessment of the character and I am a firm believer in humor in comics. Many books that I loved balanced humor with their story in a way that was superb, like Incredible Hercules or Rat Queens.

          However, not every jokes are funny for everyone, with some jokes falling flat on their face for some people. This issue certainly wasn’t bad by any merit, but I felt that the humor here wasn’t as good as in other books or in previous issues of the series.

          I did chuckle at some jokes, I can assure you that. I have a soul, thank you very much, but some jokes felt either too random or forced to feel actually funny for me. If some of the jokes worked for you, I think it’s really cool, but some didn’t for me and I did try to say that.

          At the end of the day, a review will always have a subjective streak in it, whether the writer wishes to or not.

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